In the beginning, FESTAC Town was a purely residential estate. Originally referred to as Festival Town or FESTAC village, it is found along the Lagos/Badagry Expressway in Lagos.
But FESTAC is no longer what it used to be. It has lost its past glory in more ways than one. In particular, it is not a residential estate in every material particular anymore. It has become home to various activities.
Town of prostitutes...
One of the preferred places where the women of easy virtues display their wares is First Avenue. As night falls, they converge on the long stretch and wait patiently like vultures. While some stand in twos and threes, others go solo. And to keep warm and high while standing in the dark, some of them puff cigarettes and weeds.
In various sizes and shapes, they come. Some are-not-so-young, others look as young as 14 and 15 year- olds, flaunting apple size breasts and buttocks still forming. But here, age is nothing; street wisdom is everything. Everyone strives to beat the other in the highly competitive sex trade. The roadside prostitutes, made up of students, married women, divorces and single mothers openly solicit for patronage from passers-by.
Perhaps, the highest concentration of sex workers in FESTAC is in a brothel found near the bride, linking the town with the extension. Indeed, it could be described as a ‘one-stop sex super market.’ There, sex walks on all fours. Ladies in skimpy attires that leave little to imagination strut their stuff. Some are bold enough to solicit for patronage, promising to give prospective customers “treats.” They also adopt fancy names like Beauty, Mimi, Cindy, Suzzie, Floxy, etc.
Recently, Daily Sun spent a night at the prostitutes’ paradise and saw them, reenacting Sodom and Gomorrah. Indeed, anything can happen there. Men were seen caressing women openly just as lovemaking took place inside cars parked in the neighbourhood. Drug dealing and weed smoking were also some of the activities going on there.
How they operate
Some of the ladies come from elsewhere to ‘hustle’ in FESTAC at night and leave in the morning. Coming to ‘work’, they dress somewhat respectably but when they get to their ‘office,’ they don their business outfits. The work clothes consist of breasts and belly exposing tops and tight fitting bum shorts, low waist trousers and micro-mini skirts.
Investigations revealed that some of the prostitutes’ camp in the brothel located near the bridge, linking the town with the extension. A number of them take up rooms at the rate of N3,500 daily and split the bill among themselves. The ladies, who camp at the brothel entertain clients in their rooms. But for a customer to be entertained inside the room before 12am, he has to pay N1,000 to the management of the hotel.
The market rate for sex there is not fixed. It depends on the time, class and desperation of those involved. The call girls charge between N1,500 and N3,000 for a trick. An all-night outing is put at anything from N3,000.
Some of the girls can engage in three-some if the price is right. A lady, who gave her name as Sylvia, told the reporter that she could sleep with two men if they pay well. “If two guys can pay me N8,000, I will spend the night with them.” Asked if she can cope with two men, she smiled and said: “Try me. No bi today yash dey for back.”
And in their desperation for customers, some of them flaunt their area of specialisation. Happiness, as one of them called herself, said she was a blow job expert. Another said she was willing to do it through the anus.
Condoms, pants everywhere
Evidences that the sex business is thriving are everywhere. For instance, used condoms are strewn all about the neighbourhood. Pants and bras of every colour hang in the open windows, painting the area in the colour of a red light district.
It was gathered that deaths are sometimes recorded in the brothel or guesthouse. A source said: “We have witnessed instances where dead bodies were brought out of the brothel.”
Those living near the enclave of sex are crying blue murder. According to them, the nuisance value of the commercial sex workers and their patrons is unbearable.
A resident, who lives close to the brothel complained: “They said it was a guest house but it is purely a brothel, it is for harlots. They are constituting nuisance and this is affecting the upbringing of our children. Sometimes, as early as 6.00pm, I can’t even see the way to enter my compound; somebody will just come and pack at the gate and the manager and so-called security men they have there will not control their customers in terms of how they park their cars.
They don’t have parking space. In fact, it is compound problem. It is the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) that caused this problem. I can tell that the house, standing there is not the one FHA approved. FHA knows that, the owner of the hotel knows that. They approved about five or 10 rooms as a guesthouse but what they have there is something else. I have called the police but nothing happened.
One of the businesses that define FESTAC Town presently is prostitution. Indeed, it could be said there is a festival of sex, going on in some parts of the town. Some of the residents volunteered that they were harassed daily by the commercial sex workers on the prowl.
He further said: “This thing is not supposed to be here. If you ask other neighbours, they will narrate the same experience. If you come about 6.00pm, you will wonder if someone is living in my house, you will think that my compound is even the hotel. They will park cars in front of my house and have sex right inside the cars, not inside the hotel. It is the people that came to the hotel that are doing that. Another thing is the music they play.
They start playing the music from 6.00pm till 5.00am the following day. The speakers will be booming, disturbing the neighbourhood. This goes on everyday of the week. I wonder why FHA will allow this kind of nonsense in this place. They are there, taking bribe; if you give them money you will build any kind of nonsense you want in FESTAC. Otherwise, why should they allow this?”
Another resident said his children and visitors had been harassed by patrons, who mistook them for sex workers. “It is better forgotten,” he said with unmistakable agony in his voice.
Another resident added: “I live at the back of the guesthouse. We find it very difficult to enter our houses, especially in the evenings because harlots and men of the under world will be everywhere, blocking the road. So, everyday that you enter your house, you thank God that you have succeeded for that day. We have encountered all sorts of problems because of the guesthouse. Sometime last year, somebody was visiting us in the evening; he could not have access to our house. What he did was that he parked the vehicle beside the hotel and came in. After staying with us and was about to go, he discovered that the vehicle he parked there had been vandalised. They took away his laptop, international passport and everything that was inside the vehicle. So, we are begging the government to come and rescue us, we are in a very big problem in FESTAC.”
He added that the place was a den of thieves. “A lot of times, armed robbers run into the hotel and police will pursue them and get them. After few days, it will recur. Our lives are not safe in his this Close we are living. We are living in fear. If you come to the back of the guesthouse, you will see how the harlots display their pants, bras and other things in the windows and this is a place where we are training our children.
Anyone who comes around here in the evenings will witness what we are saying. We acquired the place as a residential area but we are crying because of the hotel and hoodlums that are attacking us. We are begging government and people concerned to come and rescue us before things get out of hand.”
On the efforts the residents have made to redress the situation, one of the residents said: “We have reported this matter to the owner of the hotel and he promised us that he would look into it but up till now nothing has been done. The situation of the place is getting worse by the day. To make matters worse, they started to play band every night. As soon you get home to rest after a hard day’s work, they start playing band. We don’t sleep till about 5.00am when they close. All these things are happening in a residential area.
Even policemen used to sleep there. You can investigate by yourself. So, they are the same. Sometimes, armed robbers jump from the guest house into my compound. Do you believe that a whole officer was asking me irrelevant questions. Am I supposed to go to the hotel to monitor what is happening? The police, by the nature of their job, are supposed to know that this thing exists in Festac. If I complain to the police, they will start asking me: Did you see the armed robber? Was he carrying gun? They may want to implicate me; nothing is impossible.”
We have called the man times without number to see what we are passing through. His progress should not be a problem to us. He acquired a land as we acquired ours through FHA as a residential area. Only God knows how he got the approval to run it as a hotel. Hotel is different from brothel. Hotel is a place where people go to rest but this one is the abode of harlots from all over the country.
The concerned residents have also petitioned the FHA and management of the guesthouse over the issue. The petitions bother on noise pollution, blockade of the road, leading to their houses by guests and patrons of the brothel, provocative and irresponsible behaviour of the harlots, loss of value in the property within the vicinity and revocation permit to operate as guesthouse.
Efforts to speak with the managing director of the outfit proved abortive. Daily Sun called him on telephone number 08034345784 but though it rang there was no response.
They come and pay for rooms and begin to operate from there. Maybe, six or 10 girls will be resident in one room to terrorise the FESTAC area. It is an eye sore. We have young people we are training and they are going out and coming in. We have no value as human beings in FESTAC because of the area we are living and what is happening there. We are begging government to come and rescue us.”